I was telling the contributors to this anthology that I look at the TOC reveal a bit like the part of a show where the house lights go down and the curtain begins to open. Not wide open, just a peek — enough to whet your appetite and make you excited for what’s about to come next. This is me introducing you to the anthology… the cover reveal is, I dunno, the handshake perhaps? And the release is when you really get to know one another.
I love Equus. I think it’s the strongest anthology I’ve ever put together and I can barely wait for you to meet and fall in love with it like I have, but for now the introduction. The lights are going down… here’s your peek behind the curtain:
Equus Table of Contents
Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato
Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt
A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook
Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas
Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann
Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt
A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth
I have the pleasure (and honour) of being one of the editors of this year’s Tesseracts anthology. Tesseracts Twenty-one has the theme of ‘Optimistic SF’ which I think is just perfect, because can’t we all use a little more optimism in our lives?
In the submission guidelines the theme is described as:
The theme of the anthology is ‘optimism’ – which doesn’t necessarily exclude dark or scary settings – but requires some sort of optimistic twist or element. Whether that takes the form of a solar-punk tale set in a sustainable world with a post-scarcity economy, a POV character existing as an advocate of optimism or something else entirely, the editors want to see it.
“We’re not looking for saccharine sweetness, but rather stories which offer a little brightness and hope in one way or another,” says Rhonda Parrish, co-editor.
“While we’re certainly interested in submissions where a Canadian setting (a specific city, region, or province) plays a role, we’re also open to stories set anywhere in the world, the universe, or the multiverse,” says Greg Bechtel, co-editor.
And submissions are open now, which means Greg and I have had the chance to read a few dozen stories already and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed. I love the different ways people are interpreting the theme of optimism! There hasn’t been a saccharine sweet story in the bunch, which I feel is somewhat of a miracle, truth be told. So even though things are looking really good in the submission pile, it’s sort of a tradition for me to put out a wishlist of sorts when I edit an anthology, so here’s my wishlist for Tesseracts Twenty-one 🙂
When I’m reading submissions the #1 most important thing to me are the characters — they need to be three-dimensional, of course, but beyond that I also need at least one character I can cheer for. They don’t need to be perfect (please God, don’t let them be perfect) but it’s vital that I want them to prevail. Apply this to all the things on my wishlist below, because I do 🙂
Solarpunk is optimistic and envisions an eco-friendly future “focused on envisioning a positive future beyond scarcity and hierarchy, where humanity is reintegrated with nature and technology is used for human-centric and ecocentric purposes.” (Source: Wikipedia.). I’d love to see solarpunk stories that use interesting characters to explore the kinds of conflicts that would exist in a utopian world through an optimistic lens. That might include conflict types that exist now (interpersonal, criminal, political) as well as ones that might come about because of the new state of things. What kinds of conflicts would those be? I don’t know. Surprise me!* Related: I love the solarpunk aesthetic of Olivia’s art here.
Stories where different factions learn to work together (or at least co-exist) can be cheesy and overdone or they can be amazing and inspiring. If you have one of the latter, send it! 🙂
Good humour is difficult to write, but if you can make me laugh when I read your story you are halfway to the longlist already.
A new twist on a build-your-own-spaceship story? Yes, please!
I’m always a big fan of a good time travel story, and if that isn’t a sub-genre that is ripe for exploring through an optimistic lens I don’t know what is.
There are some who believe humans will set foot on Mars within our lifetime. I mean… I’m just saying… (Hint: I’m not just saying)
I could go on. Normally I probably would go on but these vague little hints I’m offering are just meant to help spark something for anyone who wanted to submit but are currently stuck for ideas, they aren’t meant to be prescriptive. And what I’m seeing in the submissions already is creative, thoughtful and insightful so it seems many of you have already got strong, interesting ideas for optimistic SF. I don’t want to muddy those waters.
Submissions will remain open until the end of April. I hope to see your name in the submissions pile and discover what your interpretation of ‘Optimistic SF’ is!
Dream Eater is coming out soon. April 4th, as a matter-of-fact. In case you haven’t heard me rave about Dream Eater before, it’s a book by K. Bird Lincoln that I had the pleasure of editing. I love it.
Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.
Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact–a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee–transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.
But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Altzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.
Reviews have been coming in, and mostly people like it. People like Beth Cato, and Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Publisher’s Weekly!
To celebrate, and to continue to raise awareness of Dream Eater‘s impending release, I wanted to have a giveaway but I wanted for the prize to be something a little different than normal. I couldn’t make it a handicraft — I’m still working on the blanket that was a prize for my Giftmas fundraiser — but I could make it something fun. A t-shirt from TeeTurtle.com! I’m not affiliated with Tee Turtle in any way, I just happen to love their shirts (and own several of them), so why not give one away?
The winner of this draw will receive one t-shirt of their choice — and trust me, they have some awesome designs to choose from 🙂
I write fantasy, so I have to do more research than those who write real life.
“Wait,” some protest, “there’s a lot of research required for historical, or military thrillers, or other real stories. But in fantasy, you can just make everything up!”
Well, I could, but you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. My job in speculative fiction is to make you believe something could be real, even when it clearly isn’t. That you know of. Yet.
If so much is real, and what is new fits so closely with what we know is real, then maybe, just maybe….? And thus, speculative fiction.
This is why my story about mermaids required research into fox genetics and amazing corpuscles in elephant trunks. And for my D is for Dinosaur entry, I plunged into the following diverse topics:
the extremely rare Devils Hole Pupfish, found in a single geothermal pool
the history of Chinese bronze casting
the natural history of Kazahkstan
the horrifically destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China
Many of these were reduced in final editing so that the submitted story contains now only a reference or a quirky fact, but they are still the foundation for a more cohesive, structurally sound piece of totally-made-up fiction.
When the apocalypse comes and libraries are burning and you have to choose your team for survival, make sure to include a writer. Their brains are full of hidden and potentially useful information!
Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent‘s “Recommended Reading” list. Her latest novel The Songweaver’s Vow releases February 21 and taught her about ninth century clothing dyes and building construction in Northern Europe. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .